MOL said the fore section of its containership MOL Comfort
sank Wednesday evening in the Arabian Sea.
The company said the remaining section of the ship "sank in the high seas" near 19'56"N 65'25"E (water depth about 3,000 meters) at 7 p.m. on July 10.
The Japanese liner company said "about 2,400 containers on board the fore part of the vessel sank together, while some have been confirmed floating near the site.
About 1,600 metric tons of fuel oil and other oil were estimated to be in the tanks of the fore part. There is an oil film at the site, but no large volume of oil leakage has been observed at this moment.
The MOL Comfort
broke in half during a storm on June 17. The aft section, with its containers, sank 10 days later. A fire broke out in the fore section of the ship on June 6 as it was being towed to a port for salvage.
The company reported the sinking of the vessel's fore section to the flag state of the Bahamas, Indian authorities, and other parties concerned. "We will keep the salvage team at the scene to monitor oil leakage and the status of the floating containers," MOL said.
The company said, together with shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the classification society Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK), it's continuing an investigation into the cause of the accident.
The sinking of the second half of the ship is likely to complicate investigations into the cause of the ship fracturing.
Areas likely to be looked at include the weight and stowage of containers and the amount of ballast water and how it was distributed.
John Akhurst, deputy director of maritime affairs at the Bahamas Maritime Authority, told American Shipper
the Bahamas has initiated its own investigation as required by the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea.
"It goes without saying that the absence of any physical remains will impact on the efforts being made to establish why and how this catastrophic structural failure happened," he said.
"We were anticipating engaging specialist forensic engineering personnel to carry out detailed examination of the damaged structure and make such metallurgical testing as may have shed light on the failure. It seems at present that retrieval of either of the two halves of the hull is impracticable due to the water depths involved, believed in excess of 2,000 meters," Akhurst said.
"With these caveats we will be looking at possible causal factors using any available records and are investigating whether numerical modelling can assist in establishing causes and potential safety improvements."
MOL said six sister vessels to the MOL Comfort
have "already started the operational precautions to reduce the stress on the hull. These vessels sufficiently fill the safety standard required by ClassNK" in compliance with standards of the International Association of Classification Societies. The company said it will conduct upgrade works to further strengthen the hull structure to twice that standard. - Chris Dupin